The Pigmies and the Great Hunters

The following story is told as having actually occurred:

Mr. Johnson and others of the Seneca Reservation went out on a hunting expedition to a region quite remote from their homes. Upon their arrival at the hunting grounds they found game so plentiful that they were obliged to throw away large quantities of meat to enable them to preserve and carry the skins of the many animals they had slain.

Several months after their arrival they moved farther into the wilderness, and found, to their sorrow, that game was growing scarcer each day until they could find none. As a consequence of their prodigality they were soon in want of that very meat which they had so wantonly thrown away, and were finally pushed to the verge of starvation.

At length a pigmy appeared to the hapless hunters, and said that their present condition was a just punishment to them for their wastefulness and greed for gain. In despair the hunters inquired of the pigmy what they must do to obtain food. The pigmy said that they must either starve or give up all the skins and furs which they had collected and prepared for use. The hunters asked how long they would be permitted to consider the proposition. The pigmy replied that when they had decided they could call one of his race by simply tapping on a rock, and then they could tell their decision.

Not agreeing upon any answer after a long consultation, they called one of the pigmies to ask for better terms. The hunters said they would rather die than submit, if the amount of food were small, since, with a small supply and being in a strange, unknown country, they could not possibly find their way home. They further asked him to show them their homeward journey. The pigmy said that he could not grant their request without the full concurrence of his race, but that he would give them food enough to satisfy them in their present distress. He then showed them into a capacious and furnished cavern, in which they were to await the answer of the pigmies.

On the following day the pigmy returned and said they had been forgiven for their wastefulness, and that they would be furnished with provisions without parting with their furs. He said that the hunters must remain in the cavern, and that some time in the night they would be called for.

About midnight they were awakened and found themselves in their first camping-ground.

The Senecas were informed that they were brought there by their ever-vigilant pigmy friends.

Myths of the Iroquois